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Posted: September 17, 2015

Business Roundtable calls on Congress to renew Ex-Im Bank charter


The following article was released by the Maritime Trades Department, AFL-CIO, with which American Maritime Officers is affiliated through the Seafarers International Union of North America.

The Business Roundtable called on Congress to pass charter renewal authorization for the U.S. Export-Import Bank before it is too late.

In a letter to House and Senate leadership dated September 14, Thomas Linebarger, chair of the association's International Engagement Committee, wrote that, since the bank's authority lapsed, "Congress' failure to reauthorize Ex-Im Bank has already resulted in U.S. companies losing international sales and puts hundreds of thousands of U.S. jobs at risk."

This call by the Business Roundtable (an association of chief executive officers from U.S. companies dedicated to promoting sound public policy and a thriving U.S. economy) joins the efforts undertaken by the MTD, its affiliates and its Port Maritime Councils nationwide to seek renewal of the bank's charter. The MTD has long supported the Ex-Im Bank, which still maintains bipartisan backing.

However, despite its history of benefiting U.S. workers and businesses, a small group of legislators has blocked the bank's renewal by stating it is an example of corporate welfare. The opposition comes despite the fact that the Ex-Im Bank does not require any U.S. funding but returns dollars to the Treasury - roughly $7 billion over the last several years.

In late July, President Obama, at a White House meeting for charter renewal attended by elected officials and businesses large and small aided by the Ex-Im Bank, declared, "I just want to be clear about this: This is not a situation in which taxpayers are subsidizing these companies."

In his letter, Linebarger pointed out, "For example, in [Fiscal Year] 2014, it provided $27.5 billion worth of U.S. exports through its approval of over 3,700 transactions for U.S. companies, including more than 3,300 for small businesses. These exports supported an estimated 164,000 American jobs at these companies as well as companies in their U.S. supply chains."

As the MTD has noted throughout this campaign, many of these jobs are maritime-related, as cargo generated by the Ex-Im Bank must be moved aboard U.S.-flag, U.S.-crewed vessels.

Congressional inaction caused the bank's charter to expire at the end of June. While it cannot conduct its primary business - backing low-interest loans for the export of U.S.-made products and goods - the bank has enough money to maintain basic operations for several months.

The Ex-Im Bank, which was created by President Franklin Roosevelt in 1934, is not unique to the United States. Approximately 60 other countries have similar institutions to promote the export of their goods.